Our devotional this past Friday was dedicated to praying for national leaders. We will keep that theme going here today with our Sunday sermon series.
Prayer Series XXXVIII
CONTEXT: Matthew Henry breaks down Luke 18 as follows: In this chapter we have, I. The parable of the importunate widow, designed to teach us fervency in prayer (v. 1-8). II. The parable of the Pharisee and publican, designed to teach us humility, and humiliation for sin, in prayer (v. 9-14). III. Christ’s favour to little children that were brought to him (v. 15-17). IV. The trial of a rich man that had a mind to follow Christ, whether he loved better Christ or his riches; his coming short upon that trial; and Christ’s discourse with his disciples upon that occasion (v. 18-30). V. Christ’s foretelling his own death and sufferings (v. 31-34). VI. His restoring sight to a blind man (v. 35-43). And these four passages we had before in Matthew and Mark.
This much I must say of national sins, that, wherever great powers have interfered with smaller and inoffensive nationalities, for the sake of increasing their territory, or their influence, they are truly guilty; and wherein nations have shown a feverish irritability, or a readiness for war, they are also to be censured. Is not war always a conglomerate of crimes? Wherein our civilized races have oppressed and degraded aboriginal tribes, the sin cries out before high Heaven. I blush to own the part of my own country in the enormous infamy of the opium traffic. May God forgive this great wickedness, and deliver us from it! But enough of this, lest I should awaken difference of opinion where I would excite a common repentance. Let each nationality humble itself apart, and cry, in the language of Daniel: “O Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against You.”
Neither will I dwell at any length upon social sins. Ah, me! How have both our ears been made to tingle during the past year! I could wish that I had never heard nor read of those things which are done of the infamous in secret. Henceforth, for tales of horror men will turn, not to the writer of fiction, but to the discoverer of fact. Ah, God! What a world we live in! Our fine boulevards, our pleasant streets, our noble mansions—these make a goodly show. These people, dressed in their Sunday garments, are pleasant to look upon. Alas, this is but a film! Our cities reek with the crimes of Sodom. It is of no use for us to mince matters, or delude ourselves as to the sad facts of the case. We have festering within the body politic the foul diseases of the vilest ages. We talk of Christian lands; as yet the earth has not seen such prodigies. Countries are labeled “Christian” to the dishonor of the sacred Name of our Divine Lord. Social iniquity, like a troubled sea, which cannot rest, is constantly casting up mire and dirt; and I fear there is not a family which has not found this black sea encroaching upon it. In very deed, the world still lies in the bosom of the wicked one. Do not let Christian people imagine that, in order to reach the heathen, they must travel thousands of miles; the heathen are all around us, perishing in their sins. The sooner we recognize that we are to be lights in the midst of darkness, and salt in the midst of putrefaction, the better for the accomplishment of our life-work. If we believe that the world has become cleansed and sanctified into a church, we shall live in a fool’s paradise, we shall help to sustain a huge hypocrisy, and we shall miss the purpose for which a church is continued in the midst of the world.
Among social sins, I feel inclined to lay most stress upon the widespread social atheism of the present time. It is not that many are avowed infidels, but that so many are so, and have not the honesty to avow it. Men forget God; He is not in all their thoughts, or ways, or estimates. Attempts are made to remove the idea of God from science, from trade, from politics, and from education. There is not so much even of external religion as there used to be; many are casting off outward respect for it. And can we wonder? Certain of our theologians have questioned the inspiration of the Scriptures, and cast doubt upon even the historical facts therein narrated. The teachings of our Lord and of His apostles have been assailed by their pretended defenders, and the doctrines of our holy faith have, one by one, been betrayed into the hands of enemies. Of course, the people deny when their ministers doubt. Unbelief is in the air; scepticism has become the fashion of the period. All this must be preparing calamity for a coming day. People do not deny the Lord who made them without heaping up wrath against the day of wrath.C.H. Spurgeon Only a Prayer Meeting, Forty Addresses at Metropolitan Tabernacle and Other Prayer-meetings, Confession of Sin
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Having sown to the flesh, why think it strange if you are now reaping “corruption”! Perhaps some answer, But I was liberal in giving to the Lord’s cause in those days. Are you sure it was the Lord’s cause? Was the aiding in the erection of a costly “church house,” which still has a heavy debt upon it, “the Lord’s cause”? Is there no remedy? Yes, thank God, there is. “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Ah, notice carefully what is said in the first clause: it is not “if the people,” but “if My people shall humble themselves.” How many Christians are genuinely surprised that we have not already witnessed a marked change on the part of the masses around us. But they need not be surprised: the “hard times” will make no impression for good on the multitudes until God’s own people humble themselves before Him!
There is no need for the King of Great Britain or the President of the U.S.A. to appoint a day for national humiliation, fasting and prayer, until Christians first get right with God. What is meant by God’s people “humbling themselves?” This: getting down on their knees before God, and owning with shame-facedness the fleshly and worldly manner in which they lived during the years of plenty; truly repenting for and sorrowfully confessing their covetousness, their carnality, their wastefulness. Then there has to be a sincere forsaking in full purpose of heart any continuance or repetition of their past Christ-dishonoring ways. Coupled with this must be the exercise of faith: that a merciful God will hear the penitent sobbings of a contrite heart, that He will graciously forgive, that He will blot out even the effects of their sins, and now “heal their land”—their present case and circumstances. Not only must the four conditions of 2 Chronicles 7:14 be met, but the three closing promises of it must be trustfully appropriated and earnestly and persistently pleaded before God.A.W. Pink, NOT ASHAMED
And the publican, standing afar off…, IT was the fault of the Pharisee that… In the time of Jesus, the Sandedren and the Pharisees were the main political/religious groups of the jews with the publicans being the legal (tax collectors/lawyers, etc.). Although the Roman Empire ruled the land they ruled Jewish law. Many were corrupt and twisted scripture (sound familiar) to meet their agenda. In this sermon, Spurgeon points out that even in the worst of men and times despair is not called for. Prayer and Faith in God’s sovereign plan is.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon / February 20, 1887
Scripture: Luke 18:13 / From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 33